7 ways to fit more stuff in your suitcase

11:39 AM, Dec 26, 2013   |    comments
Often, once you've compressed your suitcase by zipping it shut, you'll find just a bit more room once you open it again. (Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
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USA TODAY - Sure, we could tell you to just pack less. But sometimes you want to have wardrobe options when you travel -- whether it's for an unexpected weather change or a fashion emergency. Read on for seven ways to fit even more stuff in your suitcase.

Roll your clothes

Everyone from flight attendants to military members knows this trick: Rolling your clothes is the best way to fit the most in a suitcase. Plus, rolled clothes tend to wrinkle less than folded clothes.

Put things inside your shoes

Shoes take up a lot of space inside a suitcase. Make them do double duty by stuffing them full of small items like jewelry (in a zip-lock bag), ties (rolled up), or socks and underwear (in a plastic bag). Pack your shoes on their sides to maximize space.

Zip and then add extras

Have a few overflow items that just don't seem like they'll fit? Try closing and zipping your suitcase completely (even if you have to sit on it to make it work). Then reopen your bag and try adding the items in any available spots (think corners, spaces between larger items, etc.). Often, once you've compressed the bag by zipping it shut, you'll find just a bit more room once you open it again.

Save room with travel space bags

You've probably seen the infomercials for the magical space-saving bags that can shrink bulky clothing (like sweaters and jackets) into a small, compact unit. Get the travel version of these bags and you'll save space and keep your clothes organized and wrinkle-free. These Travel Space Bags don't need a vacuum to operate. Normal zip-lock bags in various sizes can also be used to achieve a similar effect for much less money.

Employ the bundle packing method

Fit more in your luggage and avoid folds, creases and wrinkles by employing the "Bundle Wrapping" method from OneBag.com. This packing strategy involves filling a small pouch with soft items (like socks, underwear, etc.) and then wrapping larger clothing items around the pouch to form a bundle. (Here's a helpful diagram of the Bundle Wrapping method.)

Use packing folders

An alternative to space-saving bags and packing cubes, packing folders are pretty much what the name implies -- folders for your clothing. They usually come with boards, which help you fold your clothing efficiently and compact multiple items to save space. Check out the product video for Eagle Creek's Pack-It Folder 18 to see how it works. The 18-inch folder holds eight to 12 items, including bulkier garments. Your bag will be neater and seem emptier!

Buy an expandable bag

Okay, this might be cheating a little, but the best way to fit more into your bag is to have a suitcase that grows with your packing needs. Expandable suitcases double as two bags in one, often starting out carry-on size but expanding to a larger bag when needed. SmarterTravel loves the Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Carry-On Expandable Upright, which grows by 25% with the pull of a lever. If you're packing for a big trip (or need extra souvenir space on a return flight), simply expand the suitcase.

What are your secret tips for cramming more into your suitcase? Tell us in the comments section.

(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)

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